Mobile, Ala. – Lions general manager Bob Quinn made the move to trade veteran wide receiver Golden Tate at the trade deadline after getting an offer of a third-round pick from Philadelphia.
While the move made sense for the big picture roster building, it did leave a bit of a void in the slot. Bruce Ellington filled it for a bit, but suffered a hamstring injury and couldn't finish the year.
With Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr. currently under contract for the 2019 season, the Lions could look to bolster their ranks at receiver with a focus on adding a playmaker inside at the slot.
For the Lions brass scouting prospects here at the Senior Bowl, there are a number of players here in Mobile hopping to make a big impression as slot receivers.
Andy Isabella, a former high school track star in Ohio, might be the fastest player here at the Senior Bowl. He ran 10.5-seconds in the 100-yard dash in high school and said he's been timed in the 4.2's (hand time) in the 40-yard dash. He'll be really disappointed if he doesn't time under 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the Combine later next month.
"I like this Isabella," North Team head coach and Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said Tuesday.
Isabella caught 102 passes for UMass last season for 1,698 yards and 13 touchdowns. He was also a 1,000-yard receiver in 2017, with 10 touchdowns.
He gets the opportunity this week to showcase his ability against Power 5 conference competition, though he did catch 15 passes for 219 yards and two scores in a game against Georgia this past year.
"I think it's the explosiveness I bring," the 5-foot-8, 186-pound Isabella said of what he can add to an NFL team. "I think I can do it all. I think I have the quickness to play the slot and I think I have the explosiveness to play outside."
South Carolina's Deebo Samuel was one of the stars of the South Team practice Tuesday, playing mostly out of the slot. He was the go-to receiver for most of the South Team quarterbacks during the afternoon practice. Samuel also dominated the one-on-one drills with the cornerbacks with his quickness and speed.
View photos of Detroit Lions players in the Senior Bowl.
"I'm good with the ball in my hands," Samuel said Tuesday. "I just go out there and play with enthusiasm and physicality."
Samuel caught 62 passes this past season to lead South Carolina for 882 yards and 11 touchdowns, which were the second most in the SEC this past season. He also returns kicks and was one of the more explosive playmakers in the conference last season.
Interestingly enough, Samuel said he patterns his game after Tate, because of his ability to run after the catch.
Georgia State's Penny Hart (5-8, 180) and Clemson's Hunter Renfrow (5-10, 175) are a couple other slot receivers to watch throughout the course of the week in Mobile.
If the Lions are looking for help in the slot next season, this Senior Bowl has plenty of them to evaluate this week.